May 10, 2015

Supervision for Supervisors

  “Think not of yourself as the architect of your career but as the sculptor. Expect to have to do a lot of hard hammering and chiseling and scraping and polishing.” ― BC Forbes It is often said that employees do not quit companies, but rather quit their supervisor.  I can think of experiences in my own life where I felt a tremendous sense of loyalty and respect for a supervisor, and other experiences where I felt I could not take another minute being in the same room with them.  For better or for worse, an employee’s relationship with his or her supervisor is the primary tie to the organization, and the supervisor thus represents the company as a whole.  Having a supervisor who makes poor decisions, is abusive, or just incompetent pushes employees away either to a different department or away from the organization altogether.  It also inflicts damage […]
April 27, 2015

“Selling” What We Do

  Being relatively new to the President/CEO role, I have had to step out of my comfort zone frequently, in particular when it comes to building new relationships.  As I have met people interested in contributing to Open Options UCP, I have found I am at ease talking about our programs and services but quickly get anxious and uncomfortable when it comes to making an actual “ask.”  I’ve found myself feeling like a manipulative salesperson, trying to talk people into doing something they don’t want to do.  “Jim, I can get you in this great car today AND at a price my boss normally doesn’t allow,” I hear myself saying, just before they leave the lot and the car breaks down.  After expressing this anxiety, a Board member offered some words of wisdom that have really stuck with me.  He reminded me that I’m not selling a product that I […]
April 10, 2015

Dignity of Risk

  “The essence of independence has been to think and act according to standards from within, not without: to follow one’s own path, not that of the crowd.”  ― Nicholas Tharcher One of the many stereotypes or preconceived notions about people with disabilities is that they cannot make decisions for themselves.  Because of their disability, we believe they need instruction and guidance; otherwise they will do things that are harmful, unsafe or dangerous.  With the best intentions (to keep the person safe), employees sometimes believe they must become the instructor and decision-maker for the person served.  With the decision-making power now in someone else’s hands, the person is subject to the specific values and beliefs of someone else (oftentimes someone they just met).  In my own experiences, one of the biggest frustrations I have heard from the persons I have served has been for people to stop telling them what […]
March 24, 2015

The Power of Positivity

  “The beatings will continue until morale improves.” – Anonymous From their book “The Extraordinary Leader,” John Zenger and Joseph Folkman analyzed hundreds of organizations and their leaders over several years, and from this research developed a list of ten “fatal flaws” that led to failure in leadership.  The most common and most noticeable fatal flaw was failing to inspire due to lack of energy and enthusiasm.  One person interviewed described his boss as, “having the ability to suck all the energy out of any room.”  An individual lacking positive energy and having a negative outlook on everything very quickly saps energy from those around him.  Conversely, a leader with a positive attitude creates a significant “trickle down” effect.  Her enthusiasm and positive energy spreads to her employees.  This energy has been shown to increase productivity, efficiency, improve overall job satisfaction and, as you would imagine, decrease turnover.  The trickle […]